This is the fourth in an ongoing series of columns about the priesthood by an activist priest from the Dominican Republic, Fr. Rogelio Cruz, that he published in El Día. English translation by Rebel Girl.
Part 4 - 11/7/2010
The priest is caught between a usually conservative and traditionalist hierarchy and a mostly conservative laity.
The conservatism of most of the hierarchy, which has silenced and not listened to the voices coming from the most humble classes of the Church, is responsible for this whole process not being carried out properly.
One can wait quite a bit of time when one is well situated and one's problems are solved. But waiting on the tightrope is very uncomfortable and very difficult. And normally someone who is waiting in this situation falls.
The life of the priest right now is much like a tightrope: with his celibacy, with his forced obedience, like an infant, due to the conservatism that is so prevalent in the Church, with a lack of conviction that what he is doing is what he should be doing and what the Church is asking of him.
If the priest dresses like a normal man, if he frequents places where everyone goes, if he goes to the beach, the cinema, the club, if he sits in a bar with a parishioner, if he changes something in the Mass and makes it more entertaining, if he carries banners and posters to accompany a protest, if he speaks of respect for the rights of all and justice -- if a priest speaks and acts like that, let him be prepared, as the bishop would call him to order, his superior would admonish him harshly, the pious old people would send a letter to the bishop, Don So-and-So (exploiter of the people) would threaten to withdraw support from the parish unless the "little priest" shuts up or they change him.
On the other hand, if the priest faithfully follows the example given by his spiritual director at the seminary, goes back to his time, doesn't deal with the youth of his parish, never complains at all, if he repeats what he learned in seminary, if he always wears clerical garb, if he visits families rarely so as not to cause scandal, he is an exemplary priest.
This is the situation of most priests today -- they are men under pressure, harassed on the outside, and tormented, and thinking about where to go.
Those who most need help don't have superiors with whom they have a really fraternal relationship, they are not allowed to unburden themselves, nobody listens to them. Therefore it's no wonder they feel faint under the cross and abandon the ministry.